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The Lepers Who Let Us Embrace Them. (Poetry).

The Lepers Who Let Us Embrace Them

   Youthful, healthy, oozing joy,
   Francis gets the credit.
   Yet what of one who watched
   him coming, dreading charity?

   The first numbness in his hand
   had been the signal; then the
   flaking skin; now the stink of
   decay: a body rotting from within.

   It was enough: watching fingers,
   toes, limbs left behind like careless
   trash. He did not need the wealthy
   boy, did not want to be a symbol.

   Which one is named saint? One rose
   beyond hostility and shame to grace.
   Centuries owe the leper thanks; he,
   compassionate, accepted Francis' kiss.

--Kathy Coffey
COPYRIGHT 2002 National Catholic Reporter
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Coffey, Kathy
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Poem
Date:Oct 18, 2002
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